Cable’s Crème de la Crème

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Women in Cable & Telecommunications has just released its second-annual PAR Initiative, providing a report card on how well programmers’ and operators’ succeed at creating equality for women and providing employees with an environment that allows for work/life balance.

WICT is honoring the cream of the crop from that report — the best cable companies for women — not only in the pages of this supplement, but also at a special black tie gala in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 3, as well.

WICT is also paying tribute to two very special executives whose leadership in the industry serves as a guiding light to cable’s female ranks: MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath and Comcast Corp. senior vice president of customer service Suzanne Keenan. And it singles out programs from Home Box Office and Showtime with its special Tribute accolade.

When WICT launched the PAR Initiative last year in collaboration with Working Mother Media, it laid out in black and white what everyone surmised: the industry is ripe for improvement in the three key areas that the acronym PAR stands for — pay equity, advancement opportunities and resources for work/life support.

The 2004 PAR report suggests that the industry still needs to make strides with respect to women of color, senior women executives and women on corporate boards. Working Mother Media — which researched and prepared the report — also concluded that the cable companies “still seem fuzzy on the business objectives of diversity.”

Across the industry, the general belief seems to be that getting the right people, regardless of gender, into the right jobs is the way to spur growth. This comes despite clear evidence from the Catalyst organization that those companies with high representation of women in senior management positions financially outperform companies with fewer women in their top echelon.

Joanne Cleaver, a researcher for Working Mother Media, says the percentage of women working in cable is below that of all women in the national workforce — about 38% vs. 47% —and about the same as the previous year.

Many more cable companies participated this year than last — 32, 12 more than 2003. And for those who came back, the news was mixed. The percentage of women in management decreased, but the percentage of women in middle management increased, and women of color gained significantly at the mid and senior levels.

The current report found that, from 2003 to 2004, the percentage of women of color as a proportion of all managers increased from 6.5% to 8.5%.

Also from ’03 to ’04, the percentage of female middle managers had an impressive increase from 19.7% to 33.4%. This was partially due to a new management category of first-line supervisors in the 2004 survey.

In the critical area of pay equity, PAR 2004 found that more than 50% of the cable companies now have formal pay equity policies, with 43.8% of these conducting good internal pay equity surveys.

Clearly, cable still has a long way to go. And perhaps it’s idealistic to think the industry will totally level the playing field between men and women anytime soon. But the prize is obvious: earnings up dramatically — for winning companies and their workers.

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